wards for All, which distributes lottery funding to ‘good causes’ has awarded a £5,000 grant to the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) for its work in supporting LGBT people seeking refuge in the UK.
“UKLGIG are very concerned by reports of LGBT asylum seekers being harassed, humiliated and forced into extreme isolation,” Sebastian Rocca, executive director of UKLGIG, said this afternoon.
“When detained, LGBT asylum seekers face a real risk of being abused and harassed because of their sexuality or gender identity,” he pointed out.
“The detention system does not take account of the needs of LGBT asylum seekers. For example, transmen are being detained in Yarl’s Wood – a female-only detention centre, gay men are forced to live with other detainees from their country of origin who often hold the same the homophobic views as the society they are escaping from.”
In order to combat the extreme isolation that LGBT refugee seekers face and offer them support, UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group now regularly visits those held in detention centres.
The work is run by volunteers and is now funded by the £5,000 grant from the lottery distributor Awards for All.
UKLGIG was founded in 1993 to assist same‑sex, bi‑national couples win the right for foreign partners to remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of their relationship.
The work of the group resulted in the first ever legislation in this country giving rights to lesbians and gay men. From 1997 the group achieved increasing steps towards equality and with many of its recommendations being included in the Civil Partnership Act.
Immigration equality for same‑sex partners was finally achieved in December 2005.
Since 2004, UKLGIG has shifted its focus towards the problems faced by lesbian and gay refugee seekers.
The group is receiving more and more calls for help from lesbians and gay men seeking the protection of the UK, because they are persecuted in their home country.
There is currently very little support available for them and the group’s asylum seeker project is a vital lifeline – a place to meet others struggling with similar issues, a source of quality legal advice, of support and importantly of hope.
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